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Why do some of you use make-a-layman-scratch-head kinda words?

  1. Aug 16, 2010 #1
    I understand that sometimes there is no choice but to use these never-heard-of high/strong vocabulary words but I mean when you go to the store or mall or some place of that sort where you come across different people from different walks of life, even at such places do you still use these kinda words? I mean does it ever occur to you that a store clerk may not have the slightest clue of what you are talking about? Or do you realize that and just use those "fancy" words on purpose?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 16, 2010 #2
    When I discuss quantum field theory with store clerks, I avoid using never-heard-of high/strong vocabulary words.
  4. Aug 16, 2010 #3


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    What words to use and way of talking is intuitively determined by the social relationship with the people you are talking about. I think most people would feel weird using terms common to mathematical arguments such as "if and only if" in a non-mathematical setting, even though they may use them often when discussing mathematics. The appeal of such "strong" terms is that they have a much more clear-cut meaning than "ordinary" words.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2010
  5. Aug 16, 2010 #4
    Can you give us examples of these "make-a-layman-scratch-head kinda words" that "we" use in public?
  6. Aug 16, 2010 #5


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    Maybe we should talk down to people, then?
  7. Aug 16, 2010 #6
    What fancy words?
  8. Aug 16, 2010 #7
    I too would like to know which words are too fancy to use around store clerks.

    Okay, okay, maybe "sublimation", but really, it was all in context and everything when I used it.
  9. Aug 16, 2010 #8

    . . . oughta' be a crime to describe something without giving real examples.
  10. Aug 16, 2010 #9
    My thoughts precisey. The last time I used a long word with a store clerk in a deep discussion of the quantum world I got kicked out of the store... without my goods.
  11. Aug 16, 2010 #10


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    The way that I post here is the same as the way that I speak in person, other than the fact that I don't always use complete sentences in person. If there is an indication that someone doesn't understand me, I "dummy it down" to whatever extent is required.
  12. Aug 16, 2010 #11


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    I used the phrase "IEC power cord" in BestBuy in an attempt to buy a computer power lead.
    I think in the end I managed to make the sales assistant understand - "bendy wire thing goes into magic hole in wall where invisible stuff comes out and makes glowing box work"
  13. Aug 16, 2010 #12


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  14. Aug 16, 2010 #13

    Ben Niehoff

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    It's hard to read such clumsy writing. We use a broader vocabulary in order to avoid all those unnecessary hyphens and run-on sentences! Look at how much difficulty you have expressing yourself...
  15. Aug 16, 2010 #14
    An example - when someone asks you "how are you doing today?"...do you seriously reply saying "i am doing Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!"???
  16. Aug 16, 2010 #15
    ok...but think about how much difficulty store clerks would have in understanding your "broader vocabulary"...eventually leading to you using "unnecessary hyphens and run-on sentences".
  17. Aug 16, 2010 #16
    OP, you talk down to people on purpose?

    I have a friend who failed out of university but I wouldn't be surprised if he can destroy any of us with words. He's hardcore into philosophy and I haven't got a clue what he's saying sometimes. I just ask him to explain and tell him the words I don't know. I have no problem doing that and he has no problem explaining.

    If a store clerk or a stranger has no clue what I'm saying and is too afraid to ask me what I mean, then it's their problem. I'm not going to pre-adjust to everyone just because everyone might be afraid.
  18. Aug 16, 2010 #17
  19. Aug 16, 2010 #18


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    That doesn't count as a difficult word; everyone who watches Bugs Bunny knows it. :biggrin:
  20. Aug 16, 2010 #19
    :bugeye: This is the example you give? Is this whole thread based on a freak incident that you experienced by any chance? I'm pretty sure that I've never heard anyone say that word except in the context of talking about long words or in a discussion about stories-set-in-England-about-a-nanny-who-can-fly-using-her-umbrella-like like movies.
  21. Aug 16, 2010 #20


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    :surprised Now that is a very long albeit hyphenated word!
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